Updated: Mar 19
Creatine & Caffeine? The Ergogenic Aids of America
Let us start by defining an ergogenic aid? An ergogenic aid is any substance that has the ability to enhance an individual's performance. A little more than half of our adult population and 75% of college athletes use these aids. The most common ergogenic aids for increasing strength and muscle mass are creatine and protein. While the most popular for aerobic endurance are BCAAs and caffeine. Most people who exercise are very familiar or use protein to some extent, but let’s breakdown creatine and caffeine with exercise performance.
What is creatine and who benefits the most? The great thing about our bodies is that creatine is already naturally produced in our kidneys, liver, and pancreas. Our bodies need ATP to make a muscle contraction and creatine converts to creatine phosphate to make this happen. For this reason, creatine is used to improve strength, muscle mass, and increase recovery during exercise. If you are using the recommended amount of creatine and healthy than the supplements are safe to use. The recommended amount to increase muscle is 0.3g/kg of body weight per day for at least 3 days. You can then increase to 3-5g per day for maintenance. If you are an endurance athlete and long-distance runner, creatine may not have an improving effect on your performance. Creatine is best for high-intensity exercise and power athletes such as sprinters and power-lifters.
Did you know that caffeine is the most widely used stimulant in the world? I personally must have 1-2 cups of regular black coffee every day. How does it affect us in exercise and does it help? Of course, too much of anything is likely not good for our bodies. Caffeine is still a diuretic and too much prior to exercise can contribute to dehydration or impact the heart. Caffeine enhances endurance, alertness and reduces muscle soreness and possibly increases fat oxidations (fat-burning) with the appropriate amount. A good dose ranges from 3-6mg/kg of body weight 60-90 minutes before exercise.
If you are looking to take your performance to the next level than ergogenic aids are highly recommended. The important thing to remember is the recommended amounts, individual health, and fitness goals. If you’re looking for muscle strength or mass than creatine is a good option. If you are looking to increase the 5k or 10k time, try to add a half of a cup of coffee without the sugar.